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Bend Over Mr. Bush
& Kiss Your Ashcroft Goodbye

By BuckcuB

BuckcuB would like to get one fallacy about United States Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft out of the way, right now. Despite the mighty howl of protest from progressives and moderates which greeted President-select Bush's naming of Ashcroft to enforce America's laws, the record speaks for itself: in all fairness, Ashcroft is not as bad as he is generally portrayed. John Ashcroft speaking before the Christian Coalition

He is much, much worse.

There's no need to attack Ashcroft with quotes-out-of-context or intentional mischaracterizations of his actions. The former Missouri Governor/Senator's record speaks for itself. So BuckcuB is going to generally take a rest from crafting witty barbs about Shrub's pick for Attorney General, and report the plain facts from the public record.

Let's begin with the fact that ex-Senator Ashcroft lost his recent Senate race -- to a dead man. Mel Carnahan was killed in a plane crash weeks before the election, but his name remained on the ballot, and he won. His widow will serve the late Mr. Carnahan's term by appointment of Missouri's governor.

In his concession speech, Ashcroft blandly insulted Carnahan's widow and the voters of Missouri, publicly stating that he only lost the election because of "sympathy" for the death of his opponent.

John Ashcroft is a rigidly-observant Pentecostal, the most severely fundamentalist of Protestant sects. Pentacostals, once inappropriately but widely called "Holy Rollers," practice an extreme form of worship in which they "speak in tongues," and fall to the floor and convulse bodily in communion with God. They maintain that faith healing is the only permissible form of medical intervention.

Ashcroft's faith affirms that the Rapture (the prophesied Second Coming of Christ and the assumption of true believers into Heaven) is imminent, and that all secular law and authority is subordinate to the laws of God as set forth in the Bible. Like most others of his sect, Ashcroft and his wife both tithe to their church -- giving ten percent of their incomes annually to the church.

Many are the men and women who quietly maintain their private faith separately from their public office. Not so John Ashcroft. "I want to be in the process of inviting Christ into my life on a daily basis," the fundamentalist Republican has said, and he practices what he preaches.

Before his inauguration as governor of Missouri, and again before his swearing-in as a United States Senator, Ashcroft summoned Pentacostal ministers to ritually anoint him with holy oil, thus lending God's sacred affirmation to the secular process.

Ashcroft hosts Christian devotion services and prayer in his office before each workday. As governor of Missouri, he reinstated Prohibition in the governor's mansion -- alcohol was strictly banned from the premises. And in deference to the rigid dictates of his faith, Ashcroft refused to dance at his own Inaugural Ball.

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Although he is nominated to be the top law-enforcement officer of the nation, Ashcroft takes a dim view of worldly laws. "...the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ is far more important than anything else in the world," the ex-Senator told a rapt California congregation in 1997.

Ashcroft has publicly stated his contempt for those who oversee the administration of justice under secular law. In a speech to the Christian Coalition, the Missourian called Federal judges "a robed elite" who have erected "...a wall of religious oppression" in America.

When football-luminary-turned-preacher Reggie White spoke out in a much-publicized harangue, stating that homosexuality was a sin and comparing gays to "...liars and cheaters and (the) malicious," Ashcroft sent White a letter of praise in response. "You are a credit to sports at a time when many 'stars' set the wrong example," Ashcroft applauded in his May 1998 letter.

The ex-Senator, who proudly accepted an honorary degree from anti- Catholic, racist, super-fundamentalist Bob Jones University, has little respect for the rights and freedoms granted by a mere man-made Constitution.

In a speech to the ultraconservative California Republican Assembly, a group committed to what supporters call "combative conservatism," Ashcroft made his disdain plain. "I don't believe that freedom comes from government, I believe that freedom comes from God," he said.

The thorny issue of legislating Christian morality, and the frequent judicial rejection of such laws as violations of the separation of church and state do not disturb Ashcroft's committment to imposing fundamentalist Christian values through the laws. "There are times that maybe God will call us to do something that doesn't have an apparent success about it at the moment," the ex-Senator has said.

"The point is that governance is the process, by imposition and mandate, of compelling people to live at a level of the threshold of acceptability," Ashcroft says. Take note of the key concepts in that view of government, BuckcuB urges readers: Impose. Mandate. Compel.

It is said that a man is judged by the company he keeps. Ashcroft counts among his good friends and most vocal champions the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who took time out this month from a ten-day tour of the Holy Land to write home in support of the ex-Senator. "Mr. Ashcroft, who has served as senator, governor and attorney general in Missouri, has been a long-time friend of mine. He has even spoken and sung at my Thomas Road Baptist Church," Falwell wrote. falwellflag.jpg - 10.68 K If Jerry Falwell likes Ashcroft, how bad can it be?

"Because Mr. Ashcroft is a conservative and a friend of the unborn, he is being portrayed as insensitive, bigoted and a man without regard for the law. I pray that John Ashcroft is confirmed to lead the U.S. Justice Department."

Falwell may be guilty of a rare understatement in naming Ashcroft merely "a friend of the unborn." The Attorney General nominee strongly supports a Constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion under any circumstances. In contrast to even the most-conservative of his anti-abortion former colleagues in the Senate, John Ashcroft has stated that abortion should not be permitted even in cases of rape or incest.

Ashcroft's proposed amendment goes so far as to ban the therapeutic abortion -- always legal, even before Roe v. Wade -- in cases where the mother's life is endangered by her pregnancy. In light of his views, extreme even for a conservative Christian, BuckcuB finds it awfully tough to believe that Ashcroft would uphold laws protecting abortion clinics.

Also among Ashcroft's friends is ultraconservative Doug Wead, a close advisor to George Bush Sr., and buddy of Bush the Second. Wead made this succinct estimation of the Attorney General nominee: "Ashcroft is the real professional of the religious right." It was, BuckcuB assumes, intended as a compliment.

Another Ashcroft chum is far-right-wing pundit Cal Thomas, who has been extravagantly cheering his Missourian friend's nomination. "If confirmed ... he will be to the Justice Department what an exorcist is to demons," Thomas gushed recently.

Then there's Ashcroft's friend and former colleague Orrin Hatch, the die-hard reactionary from Utah, land of the Mormons. "He is a man of integrity. He is a man of great experience," conservative Republican Hatch told reporters recently, "I have no doubt ... he will enforce the law, whether he agrees with it or not."

A "man of integrity"? As governor of Missouri, Ashcroft used his executive power to declare an "economic emergency" and grant instant approval for an 18-mile-long, $140 million taxpayer-funded freeway -- which just happened to lead straight to a major campaign contributor's acres of highly-developable but formerly inaccessible real estate.

More examples of Ashcroft's integrity? In November of last year, the campaigning Missouri Senator told ABC's Cokie Roberts:

"We need to... extend the ability of Medicare to deal with older citizens by giving them precription drug coverage." Actually, Ashcroft voted against Senate Conference Resolution 20, which would have allowed funding a Medicare prescription drug benefit paid for by an increase in taxes on tobacco.

The life of the unborn may be sacrosanct to the Bush nominee for Attorney General, but the life of the already-born is not quite so hallowed to Ashcroft. As governor he authorized the execution of seven death-row inmates in Missouri, and as that state's attorney general he campaigned tirelessly for the death penalty.

The ex-Senator's inflexible committment to capital punishment played a role when he blocked the appointment of Judge Ronnie White to the United States District Court. Although many critics charged that Ashcroft's violent opposition to the appointment was colored by racism -- White is African-American -- the Missourian denied the charges, saying he opposed White as being "soft" on the death penalty. Judge White, in fact, ruled to uphold death-penalty convictions in more than 70 percent of such cases he heard.

Ashcroft's much-beloved Bible teaches that "The poor will always be with us." That may be why the nominee voted in 1998 to kill a one- dollar increase in the minimum wage.

And perhaps the Pentecostal's belief in faith healing led him to vote against S. 1029, which would have allowed tax-deductible medical savings accounts for Americans.

The health of the nation's youth is not, apparently, of any great importance to Ashcroft, either. Commenting that kids need to take "individual responsibility" for their actions, Ashcroft voted against a bill to impose penalties on the tobacco industry if the cigarette companies didn't work to decrease rates of youth smoking.

Given his views of gays and lesbians as sinful Sodomites, it will come as no surprise that Ashcroft voted last year against a Senate amendment which would have expanded the definition of "hate crimes" to include sexual orientation, gender, and disability. Or that he also voted against S. 2056, which would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Interestingly enough, Ashcroft actually owes his nomination -- in a backhanded way -- to the gay community. He was not the Texas Twit's first choice for Attorney General. That dubious honor originally belonged to Montana Governor Marc Racicot, a close Bush II intimate. Racicot, however, backed out after Bush was assailed by the vicious wrath of religious conservatives, furious that he planned to appoint a man who supports hate-crimes legislation including gays.

Racicot had made a fervent public endorsement of such legislation immediately following the barbaric 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in neighboring Wyoming. The possibility of an Attorney General who believes that homosexuals should not be murdered with impunity enraged the religious right, and they made their violent opposition known. Shrub caved, Racicot was quietly asked to withdraw, and nominated instead was evangelical darling Ashcroft.

Make no mistake: compared to John Ashcroft, most other conservatives are left-wing bleeding-heart liberals. The Attorney General nominee voted proudly for a Senate declaration that open prayer in public schools and erecting religious symbols in schools does not violate the First Amendment, and further pledging taxpayer- funded, unlimited legal assistance to any government entity defending such a challenge. The declaration, unsurprisingly, was defeated.

Ashcroft's terrifying record goes on, and on, and on. He voted against (and is an extremely vocal critic of) affirmative action. He voted to strip funding from solar and renewable energy programs. He voted against requiring background checks on buyers at gun shows. He voted to allow using any Social Security surplus to fund tax cuts. He voted to eliminate government funding for the arts and humanities.

When the Supreme Court illegally appointed George Bush as the next President, many gay folks took it with contemptuous resignation. Bush would get to sit in the big chair, but in 2002 the Democrats would unquestionably retake both houses of Congress -- severely limiting the Texas Twit -- and an electorate fed up with his inevitable idiocies would turn Shrub out of the White House in 2004. No harm, no foul.

The nomination of John Ashcroft as Attorney General changes all that. Ashcroft is without question the most potentially-dangerous man ever to be nominated as the nation's top law-enforcement officer.

If the bare facts of his record are widely reported and made the basis of a Congressional challenge to Ashcroft's nomination, he will lose the confirmation battle. The only way to make sure that happens is to contact the members of Congress, and let them know that the opposition to his appointment is stronger and louder than the evangelical right-wing's support for it.

You've read Ashcroft's terrifying record, spelled out above with no need of embellishment by BuckcuB. Now write your Senator. For Senate contact information go to:

Speak out against the appointment of this fanatical zealot, and do it now. For if Ashcroft is confirmed as Attorney General, forget civil rights in America. John Ashcroft answers to a higher authority than the mere Constitution of mere mortals, and he will not be constrained by that document. So speak up against his appointment, now -- or else you'd better start practicing speaking in tongues.

© 1997-2002 BEI